Dorfman, E. (2007). Fandomania: Characters & Cosplay. Aperture. ISBN: 978-1597110358When I first saw this book on Amazon I thought that it looked neat. It was sold as a book featuring shots that are just cosplayers, no fancy backgrounds, no props, no fancy posing. The focus is the costumes and the people who made their costumes. I naturally interlibrary loan'd this in a heartbeat. I'm really glad I didn't buy it.
Inside the book is a short, few page essay written by someone who wasn't the photographer, apparently a random art critic. Okay. Weird. But whatever. Reading the essay intro thing I now kind of understand where a good number of people might have gotten the idea that cosplay is really just fetish wear that people put a good bit of effort into making. It mentions how clearly cosplay is just young people exploring their identity, sexual and otherwise.
If people want to cosplay and have it be a fetish thing, that's fine. I just don't appreciate someone labelling all of cosplay as something like that. Also early in the essay it mentions how this book purposefully goes out of it's way to not be condescending or treat the subjects like freaks but the essay itself does and going into looking at the pictures after gives a distinct freak show vibe to the whole thing.
So going in to the meat of the book I've already been put in a 'this is going to be a freak show?' mind set and from some of the preview pics from Amazon I knew that the posing would get a bit awkward at times.
At the very end of the book is a list of each of the people in the book, who their character is and what series they're from when that applies. I appreciated it since I was able to confirm some of the characters I thought some of the people were.
The final thing I have to say about this book is that it fails to mention where these photos were taken. The foreword implies they were taken at a convention but no specific convention or even a year is given. If the author was really trying to make this seem like a legit cross section of the cosplay world then they should have included where and when the photos were collected but that's the thing. This book stated it wanted to give a genuine, distilled view into cosplay that wasn't a "look at these freak show kids", a view without the artifice of posing or props or backgrounds but in purposefully choosing particularly awkward shots that's the exact feel they got.
If you want to check out this book then go for it but if you're doing a paper/thesis/any sort of meaningful research into cosplay this is a total waste of time.
3/10 (would have been lower but the craft foam cover is boss)